Forest Plan Revisions

August 25, 2016

At the links below, download and read our coalition comments on the draft EIS and forest plan revisions for the Sequoia, Sierra, and Inyo National Forests. This was a huge effort made possible because of the deep commitment, dedication, and expertise of a crack group of core activists on our team. Thousands of pages of (frequently highly technical) documentation had to be carefully read through, vetted, and analyzed in order to identify the many problem areas in the agency's management plans.

Sadly, the DEIS and plans are a big disappointment, and we know the Forest Service can do--and should have done--better. Because of the many omissions and inaccuracies, we have asked for a revision or supplement to the draft plans. In many instances, the findings of leading scientists in their fields, as well as the agency's own scientists, were ignored or simply left out. Further, the massive tree mortality event now taking place throughout the Sierra Nevada, but most notably in the southern end of the range, due to drought and bark beetle epidemic, was not addressed at all--not even mentioned.

The agency has utterly failed to produce a scientifically credible representation of the environmental conditions of the region.

The first link below takes you to the Sierra Forest Legacy coalition's main comment letter, followed by four attachments containing exhibits I -XII. Part 2 lists the attachments.

Part 1. Main comment letter (4.3 MB)

Part 2. List of attachments/exhibits, and Exhibits I - VII (6.7 MB)

Part 3. Exhibits VIII - IX (8.7 MB).

Part 4. Exhibit IX - XII (Maps (10.7 MB).

Part 5. Exhibits XII (continued) (4.4 MB)

 

June 21, 2016

Here are a couple of activists' tools that can help to circulate information about the key issues involved in the forest plan revisions. The Sierra Club has produced the Citizens' Guide to Protecting the Inyo, Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, and our coalition also has a one-page fact sheet available for printing. Please share these links widely with friends and colleagues interested in participating in helping the Forest Service to make the best science based, conservation focused decisions to protect our precious public resources.

Download the Citizens' Guide to Protecting the Inyo, Sierra and Sequoia National Forests

Download the Sierra Forest Plan Revisions Fact Sheet (Updated 6-27-16).

May 19, 2016

The Forest Service has released the draft forest plan revisions and draft environmental impact statements for the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. The documents can be accessed at this website. The official 90-day timeline for submitting comments to the agency is determined by the publication date in the Federal Register, May 27, 2016; comments must be received by the agency by August 25, 2016. Instructions for submitting public comments electronically are found on the website, or click here. There will also be several opportunities to participate in discussions with the Forest Service at public meetings, and comments may be submitted directly there.

The meeting places and times are posted here.

Here, you will find comments and letters we've provided recently to the Forest Service relating to the early adopter plan revisions (Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests).

February 1, 2016 Comments on draft list of Species of Conservation Concern

February 1, 2016 Wilderness Evaluation Process and Areas Identified for DEIS Analysis

February 1, 2016 Comments on Wild and Scenic River Evaluation

October 23, 2015: Comments on the preliminary draft monitoring program for the revised forest plans
for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra national forests

September 8, 2015: Comments on draft viability analyses for great gray owl and Gilman’s goldenbush

August 18, 2015: Comments on draft species of conservation concern for the Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra national forests

June 3, 2015: Comments on Proposed Draft Wilderness Areas in Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests

May 27, 2015: Letter Proposing Revised Schedule for Next Forest Plan Revisions

October 30, 2014: Comments on Wilderness Evaluation Process

September 29, 2014

Today Sierra Forest Legacy and our coalition partners submitted scoping comments on the NOI for forest plan revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Coalition partners included American Rivers, California Native Plant Society, California Wilderness Coalition, Defenders of Wildlife, Friends of the River, Mono Lake Committee, Pacific Rivers Council, Sierra Club, Western Watersheds Project, and the Wilderness Society.

The following five files were part of the comment package and can be downloaded here:

SFL et al. scoping comments 9-29-14.pdf

SFL et al. comments on NOI 9-24-14 Appendices A through D.pdf

SFL et al. comments on NOI 9-24-14 Appendices E through G.pdf

SFL et al. comments 9-29-14 Appendix A Tables 1-3

SFL et al. comments 9-29-14 Appendix A Tables 1-9

For reference to the comments on the proposed action, you may also want to review SFL et al comments on the "draft forest assessment" for each of the three forests:

SFL et al. comments 9-19-2013 Sierra NF draft forest assessment

SFL et al. comments 10-16-2013 Sequoia NF draft forest assessment

SFL et al. comments 12-16-2013 Inyo NF draft forest assessment.

Also, be sure to review the history for the process, and all the relevant documents, available on the planning pages for each forest here on the SFL website: Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Quick link to these pages in the column to your right under "Plan Revisions Pending."

August 29th, 2014

Today the Federal Register published the Forest Service's Notice of Intent to prepare an environmental impact statement for the joint forest plan revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. Download the NOI here, and review all of the scoping materials and maps at this FS planning website for the three early adopter Sierra Nevada forests. The draft EIS and plan is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2015; the revision is expected to be completed in the Spring of 2016. Comments from the public will be accepted until September 29, 2014.

Click here to go to the FS planning website to download all the documents.

June 30, 2014

Read our coalition's comments on the revised Need for Change and supplement.

The Forest Service released a supplement to the revised Need for Change document announced on May 20th. Additional information about the meetings and the associated documents are available at the Forest Service planning website.

The Sierra, Sequoia and Inyo forest plan revisions will be completed through the development of one environmental impact statement. The final EIS will result in three separate Records of Decision and three separate forest plans. Forest Supervisors will remain the responsible officials for making decisions on their specific forest plans.

For forest-specific information, please contact that forest directly:

March 27, 2014

Forest Service postpones forest plan revision timeline

Amid concerns among our coalition that the Forest Service was moving too quickly with plan revisions, the agency announced today a new plan revision schedule. Read our letter, here, and the Forest Service press release, here.

December 30, 2013

The final Forest Assessments have now been completed for the three "early adopter" forests, the Sierra, Sequoia, and Inyo National Forests. A single EIS will be prepared for all three forests. The agency created a "Preliminary Need for Change" document to lay the groundwork or theme for the plan revisions, and "identifies the areas that need to change in management direction outlined in the current plans." Click here to read SFL coalition comments on the Need for Change document. Workshops will be held in Bishop, Bakersfield, and Fresno to discuss the final assessments, preliminary "need for change" proposal, and plan revision process.

Download the final documents and public workshop announcements at this link. You can also learn more by visiting links to the three early adopter forests in the column on the right.

September 10, 2013

The Forest Service announced today that the agency has decided to prepare a single Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Forest Plan Revisions for the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests. The purpose is to streamline the analysis process.

Be sure to check for the latest information from each of the three "early adopter" forests now undergoing forest plan revision, in the links to your right.

June, 2013

The Region's Draft Bioregional Assessment is now complete (May 23, 2013). The goal of the assessment is to take a landscape-level look at trends and conditions prior to the individual forests' plan assessments, in order to provide information at a broad scale that creates context beyond individual forests' boundaries. It includes both agency and public feedback on the same 15 topic areas that each of the early adopter forests are now compiling for forest plan revisions, as required by the 2012 planning rule. It is also informed by the January 2013 regional Science Synthesis (see below). Comments were accepted on the draft until June 15, 2013. Read Sierra Forest Legacy's comments on the Draft Bioregional Assessment.

Download the Draft Bioregional Assessment

Download Sierra Forest Legacy comments on the Draft Bioregional Assessment

Learn more about the status of forest plan revision for the three early adopter forests, the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra National Forests.

January 15, 2013 -- Science Synthesis and Bioregional Assessment

The new planning rule requires a commitment to integrating the best available science into forest management plans. Here at Sierra Forest Legacy, we seek to ensure that forest management is guided by the most current science relative to the ecology of the region. The result of commitments made by the agency to convene a science panel to provide a baseline synthesis of the status of Sierra Nevada forest resources is now available in the Science Synthesis, produced by a team of scientists from the research branch of the Forest Service (Pacific Southwest Research Station, or PSW).

How to get involved:

Download the complete (13.3 MB) Science Synthesis to Support Land and Resource Management Plan Revision in the Sierra Nevada and Southern Cascades, or you can also download it by individual chapters from this FS website.

Comments will be accepted until May 1, 2013. Send to: Lenya N. Quinn-Davidson at lquinndavidson@ucanr.edu.

Also see Sierra Cascades Dialog sessions website for background documents about public involvement with Science Synthesis and Bioregional Assessment.

Join the Forest Service Living Assessment wiki (website) to provide online comments and feedback to the agency draft assessment that tracks the forest planning rule's 15 required content topics.

March 23, 2012

Final Planning Rule signed today

The Forest Service announced today the finalizing of the new forest planning rule. According to the agency, no significant changes were made from the draft rule published in May, 2011, however, clarifications were made for important issues, such as the use of the best available science. You can read the rule here, or at the Forest Service planning rule website, where you will also find a summary, FAQs, and additional information and documents pertaining to the rule.

Read the Forest Service press release announcing the final rule here.

Although there was widespread support for retention of the strong viability rule language from the 1982 version of the rule, no such viability rule now exists for wildlife. However, because of the strong commitment to utilizing the best available science, we believe that the new rule can be equally as protective for wildlife viability and biological diversity, if commitments for monitoring and adaptive management are kept. Public participation in new forest management plan development will be essential to ensure that these commitments are met, and that national forest management continues to evolve along with our increased scientific knowledge.

If we are to sustain the biological treasure that is the Sierra Nevada for posterity, we must take seriously the threats of climage change and loss of habitat and ecological processes that face the national forests of our mountain range. Sierra Forest Legacy's Conservation Strategy, along with GTR-220, An Ecosystem Management Strategy for Sierran Mixed-Conifer Forests, and the latest companion technical report, GTR-237, Managing Sierra Nevada Forests, are the right tools we will need to get off to a good start for forest planning in California.

January 26, 2012

Today the USDA Forest Service announced the release of the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (FPEIS) for the 2011 Planning Rule. In addition, the agency announced that three forests (the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra NFs) in California will be among the first nationally to implement the new rule in the process of revising their current forest plans as required under the National Forest Management Act, NFMA (forest plans must be revised every 15 years). Read more about this history and the current planning rule on the NFMA section of this website.

It is likely that all of the forest plans currently due for revision in California will be revised in accordance with the new rule, which will be finalized in early 2012. We are engaged in leading a coalition of conservation groups throughout California in the development of a conservation strategy for the 11 national forests of the Sierra Nevada that will ensure long term protection and conservation of the Sierra Nevada's unique and priceless biological heritage. We will continue to be actively engaged with the Forest Service throughout the collaborative process set out in the new rule, beginning with the three "early adopter" forests as they are now called, the Inyo, Sequoia, and Sierra NFs.

Background Old growth pine

Due to the efforts of the Bush Administration in dismantling the 1982 forest planning regulations and replacing them with a watered down 2005 planning rule revision, National Forests throughout the Sierra Nevada came under serious threat of losing the key conservation provisions of the National Forest Management Act. The Forest Service sought to advance the plan revision process under a categorical exclusion from NEPA, or environmental analysis of possible significant impacts from new management directions. That would virtually eliminate public oversight of management of our public lands, and greatly erodes the long-standing NEPA process of environmental review. This, along with the administration's decimation of the conservation-focused 2001 Sierra Nevada Framework with its 2004 Framework revision, could leave the National Forests of the Sierra Nevada at risk of losing the amazing attributes that make them such unique global watersheds, recreation destinations, and significantly important ecosystems -- or at the least, leaving them significantly diminished.

In March, 2007, a court decision reversed the Bush administration's 2005 planning rule. In April 2008, however, the Planning Rule was released virtually unchanged, in spite of tens of thousands of comment letters opposing the revisions. Subsequently, the rule was found to be unlawful and overturned in federal court in June of 2009. Since then, the Forest Service has been developing a new rule and the accompanying environmental impact statement. [UPDATE: See Final Rule, here.]

Today we are working with a coalition of national conservation groups to provide the agency with a unified, comprehensive vision for science-based management of our national forests that will ensure their long term stability in the face of global climate change, and protection for rare and imperiled plants and wildlife. Click on this link to go the Conservation Strategy website.

Scientific Research

Committee of Scientists report. 1999. Sustaining the People's Lands. This report has been taken down recently from the Forest Service's science website. We are working on getting a copy restored for public access to this foundational report.

Cushman, S.A., K.S. McKelvey, B.R. Noon, and K. McGarigal. 2010. Use of abundance of one species as a surrogate for abundance of others.  Conservation Biology 24:830-840.

Noon, B.R., K.S. McKelvey, and B.G. Dickson. 2009. Multispecies conservation planning on U.S. federal lands. Pages 51-84 in J.J. Millspaugh and F.R. Thompson, III, editors. Models for Planning Wildlife Conservation in Large Landscapes.  Academic Press, New York.

Schultz, C.A., T.D. Sisk, B.R. Noon, and M.A. Nie. 2013. Wildlife conservation planning under the United States Forest Service's 2012 planning rule. The Journal of Wildlife Management. Online : 23 Jan 2013, DOI: 10.1002/jwmg.513

 


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